Author: Yoav Vilner
In this fast-paced digital age, reaching out to the desires and needs of consumers is more important than ever, particularly when your business is online and easily accessible. In today’s business landscape, competitors are only a few clicks away. And just around the corner is social media, which provides an uncensored soapbox where customers can voice their dissatisfaction to legions of friends and followers. Companies that get online customers on their side see soaring profits, while the others get crushed under a seething mass of keyboard-smashing, multi-exclamation-point-wielding rage.
Research shows that a social customer will tell an average of 42 people about a good customer experience, whereas that same customer will tell an average of 53 people about a bad experience! In order to build business loyalty and turn scathing complaints into glowing recommendations, take some advice from the mouths of seasoned business and leaders:
1. “There are so many new ways to serve customers. Technology, data, and information are opening new doors for us to lead through. Our purpose of saving people money will always be relevant, but we’ll do it in new ways” – Doug McMillon (CEO, Walmart)
From the looking glass of your customers, you’ll be better placed to spot the innovations that can take the customer experience to the next level. Intelligent, self-learning automated customer service and engagement engines, for example, can make a great addition to your technology stack, allowing you to provide swift, efficient, round-the-clock service to your customers, without compromising quality. Customer needs are the guide to your decision-making. These systems have the ability to learn, remember, collect and analyze data–ultimately enabling you to provide more relevant, personalized experiences.
Additionally, having access to social outlets on your site can help keep customers engaged in your products and create a community around your products. This keeps customers satisfied since they can stay updated on important news in real-time and connect with like-minded customers in order to make the most of their purchases. While everyone should have social links on Facebook and Twitter, it’s worthwhile to also investigate on-site social media tools such as SpotIM, to make your social content easier and more convenient.
2. “Customer service shouldn’t just be a department; it should be the entire company” – Tony Hsieh (CEO, Zappos)
Every cent you earn depends on serving your customer, so your entire business should be set up to serve your customers more efficiently. No matter what a given department title may be, customer service must be both a priority and an end goal. From top management, to entry level positions, anyone and everyone working for your company should live and breathe customer satisfaction. Head of Marketing at Pepperi, Oren Ezra says “Every business has those one or two employees that don’t have the best attitude. Rather than dealing with their negative attitude, employers wind up trying to be understanding and allow these people to stay on board. What they may not realize is that negativity is contagious to other employees and the customers. Warn and work with these employees, and if the motivation isn’t there, they can be replaced by vibrant positive people who will be an asset to your company”.
If flawless customer service becomes the definitive incentive of your employees, you can guarantee increased success by way of reverse engineering.
3. “Your most unhappy customers are your greatest source of learning” – Bill Gates (Founder, Microsoft)
In one way or another, Gates, arguably the most prominent digital leader of our time, paved the gateway to understanding customer service. Like many intelligent individuals, he has always been renowned for his ability to make lemonade out of lemons. We all love to be told what a good job we’re doing, but real development actually comes from the complaints that companies receive. Rather than issuing apology templates, seek to enrich your company out of the criticism of unhappy customers. When you fail to reach customer satisfaction, aim to delve into their claims rather than disregard them as useless complaints.
More often than not, the process of learning from your business mistakes can indeed prevent future disputes. Most importantly, archiving this data and flagging down reoccurring incidents can permanently improve your service while creating a far more pleasant workplace. The results are irrefutable: sustainability, scalability, and success.
4. “If you make customers unhappy in the physical world, they might each tell six friends. If you make customers unhappy on the internet, they can each tell 6,000” – Jeff Bezos (Founder and CEO, Amazon)
Customer satisfaction is more important today than ever before. 140-character tweets reach many more people than word-of-mouth ever could. That’s why it’s worth taking some extra time to make your customer experience as pleasurable as possible. Never allow momentary success to go to your head—remember that for every handful of happy customers who don’t have time to write a positive review, there is one enraged customer looking to share his irritations with the world…and it will spread like wildfire. Avoid modeling your customer support on ancient physical-world manners and learn to assimilate to the best practices of the dynamic nature of the internet. This means training employees to be professionally responsive to forums, talk-backs, reviews, and comments, and to take a proactive role in preventing unhappy customers from bad-mouthing your company.
5. “Forget about your competitors, just focus on your customers” – Jack Ma (Founder, Alibaba Group)
It’s tough out there. The internet is flooded with companies that threaten to do it bigger, better, or stronger than you. No matter what the product or service may be, the only chance you have to succeed above the rest is to ensure that you are in constant touch with the needs and concerns of your driving force—your clientele. Do your research, understand the behavior and preferences of your consumers, and gain their unconditional support by catering to their desires. Place your focus on pleasing your customers rather than just keeping up with competitors.
In the words of the ultimate role model for ideal customer service, Richard Branson, founder of Virgin Group: “The key is to set realistic customer expectations, and then not to just meet them, but to exceed them—preferably in unexpected and helpful ways”.
Ultimately, if you prioritize the client’s experience, they’ll respond by placing more orders.